Global Politics

Unofficial U.S. ambassador in Cuba

(What was your job when you served at the US interest section in Havana between 1979 and 1982?) Was the job as if I had been ambassador, I conducted conversations and negotiations with the Cuban government, I oversaw the operation of our diplomatic mission in Havana. I just didn't have the title of ambassador. (What's it like to be in an interest section in a country which the US is hostile to?) As a diplomat, you're supposed to resolve problems and improve relations and that's what I tried to do in Havana. My problem was my own government which couldn't make up its mind about its relations to Cuba. (So what did that mean for you on the ground?) It was difficult because my positions were constantly contradicted by voices back in Washington. It makes problems more difficult than relations with a country which the U.S. does have diplomatic relations with. (Could you socialize with Cuban diplomats?) Absolutely, there were no restrictions. (But did you not have to be outspoken and could you actively campaign for change in the Cuban government?) I could certainly press U.S. positions and argue unofficially with Cubans towards movement towards being a part of the world community. (Was it a good job?) Frustrating, I never felt I had support from Washington. I left after it became clear things weren't going to get easier.

Player utilities

(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Comments